The architecture and manufacturing industries are about to undergo a radical shift in how they make things. In the near future, designers and engineers will be able to create products, buildings, and cities in real time, in virtual reality (VR).
In predicting VR’s dramatic evolution, an analogy to early cinematic history is apt: As one legend has it, when the motion-picture camera first came out, actors were filmed on a set, in front of fake trees. Then someone said, “Why don’t you just put the camera in the forest?” Simple, but game-changing. VR technology is already available, and it’s only a matter of time before it is used to its full potential.
The four hurricanes that slammed into heavily populated areas from the Caribbean to Texas this summer are inching toward a half-trillion-dollar price tag in damages—to say nothing of the work and wages missed by shutting down entire cities. Buildings are the most visible marker of a place’s resilience after a disaster strikes. Surveying the catastrophic damage forces a difficult question: How can it be rebuilt better?
For a disruptive, 10-kilometer-long rail project that won’t even break ground until 2019, public officials and local residents of Moss, just south of Oslo, Norway, have been given an unusually vivid preview that, in the past, only the designers would have seen at this stage.
“We set up a showroom in the city where the public can come to view the project in a theater setting, and the feedback has been quite nice,” says Hans Petter Sjøen, facility management coordinator for Bane NOR, the year-old, state-owned company responsible for developing, operating, and maintaining the Norwegian national railway infrastructure. “Project members also have been receptive. They tell us that they have seen dimensions on the big screen that they did not see in person.”
Contemporary designers are recycling waste materials into useable and well-crafted objects, and it’s easy to get the impression that this burgeoning realm of fabrication is destined only for the craft fair. A quick survey of Blaine Brownell’s new guide Transmaterial Next: A Catalog of Materials That Redefine Our Future turns up a half-dozen Etsy-ready art and furniture curios. There’s jewelry made from coffee grounds, bowls made from plastic bags, and a chair made from artichoke thistle fibers (the “Artichair”).
But these items don’t demonstrate the necessary capacity for heavy lifting and mass-market applicability for an age of climate change and dwindling resources. To grasp the kind of architectural upcycling that can divert trash from landfills and carbon from the atmosphere on a mass scale, it pays to step out of the design gallery and into the laboratory, where architects are inventing a new breed of modular building materials.
Ancient Romans mixed lime and volcanic rock to form a mortar, a precursor to modern reinforced concrete. This made engineering marvels like Rome’s Colosseum possible—still standing more than 2,000 years after its construction.
Today, this versatile material is evolving further: Precast concrete, which is formed and cured in factories before being installed onsite, is bringing about a new wave of architecture that streamlines the building process while reaching toward big, complex ideas.
https://www.archdaily.com/877871/how-one-concrete-manufacturer-helps-architects-reduce-project-costs-with-an-in-house-design-teamAngus W. Stocking, L.S.
Imagine you’re part of a crew constructing a new office building: Midway through the process, you’re on-site, inspecting the installation of HVAC systems. You put on a funny-looking construction helmet and step out of the service elevator. As you look up, there’s a drop ceiling being installed, but you want to know what’s going on behind it.
Through the visor on your helmet, you pull up the Building Information Model (BIM), which is instantly projected across your field of vision. There are heating ducts, water pipes, and electrical boxes, moving and shifting with your point of view as you walk along the corridors. Peel back layers of the model to see the building’s steel structure, insulation, and material finishes. It’s like having comic book-style X-ray vision—and soon, it could be a reality on a construction site near you.
It’s been 20 years since Starbucks opened its first shop in Japan, bringing a new paradigm to the country’s coffee shop culture—and creating a new, appealing “third place” option between home and work or school.
Notably, almost all of Japan’s 1,245 shops—across all 47 prefectures—are directly run by the parent company. As such, they are planned by Starbucks designers who, instead of settling for standardized designs for all locations, have worked diligently to incorporate features expressing regional, historical contexts and the lifestyles of locals—in short, to appeal specifically to the Japanese market.
As the impacts of global climate change escalate, forward-thinking architecture firms have committed to being part of the solution. Increasingly, these firms are signing on to the 2030 Challenge and American Institute of Architects’ supporting initiative, AIA 2030 Commitment, which provide a framework to reduce fossil-fuel dependence and make all buildings, developments, and major renovations carbon neutral by 2030.
The 2030 Challenge has been adopted by 80 percent of the top 10 and 65 percent of the top 20 architecture, engineering, and planning firms in the United States, as well as many state and local government agencies. Among these are Eskew+Dumez+Ripple (EDR), a New Orleans–based architecture and planning firm; HOK, a global design, architecture, engineering, and planning firm; and CTA Architects Engineers, an integrated design, engineering, and architecture firm with offices throughout the Western United States and Canada. Here, five professionals from EDR, HOK, and CTA share seven key tactics they’ve employed to move toward the 2030 target—and a sustainable future for the planet.
If an architecture firm is lucky, it can hit two birds with one stone on a single project—for example, prioritizing both historic preservation and energy efficiency. But a team at KieranTimberlake, based in Philadelphia, is aiming for four ambitious goals with its pro bono project, the Mars City Facility Ops Challenge.
Architects Fátima Olivieri, Efrie Friedlander, and Rolando Lopez teamed up with National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS), NASA, and the Total Learning Research Institute (TLRI) to create a virtual working city on Mars—one that might reap multiple rewards.
https://www.archdaily.com/867605/kierantimberlake-is-using-virtual-reality-to-design-a-home-for-future-life-on-marsKim A. O'Connell
It’s the holy grail for any biomimicry design futurist: buildings and structures that use generative geometry to assemble and repair themselves, grow, and evolve all on their own. Buildings that grow like trees, assembling their matter through something like genomic instructions encoded in the material itself.
To get there, architecture alone won’t cut it. And as such, one designer, Haresh Lalvani, is among the most successful at researching this fundamental revision of architecture and fabrication. (Or is it “creation and evolution”?) He employs a wildly interdisciplinary range of tools to further this inquiry: biology; mathematics; computer science; and, most notably, art.
No one puts solar panels on their house because they’re sexy—at least, not yet.
Jon Gardzelewski, an architect and associate lecturer at the University of Wyoming in the Building Energy Research Group (UW-BERG), wants to change that. He believes the fact that solar panels are usually an afterthought to the design of a building is a big barrier to integrating them into a critical mass of houses and buildings.
You are walking through an elegant house, admiring the large living-room windows, the paintings on the wall, and the spacious kitchen. Pendant lights cast a soft glow, the terrazzo flooring gleams beneath your feet, the furnishings feel inviting. Then you take off the virtual-reality goggles and resume your meeting.
This scenario is becoming increasingly common as more architects incorporate virtual reality (VR) into their practices. Along with its cousins—augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR)—virtual reality allows designers to push the boundaries of visualization, giving colleagues and clients new ways to experience and understand a building or space long before it is actually built. With VR, architects can transmit not just what a building will look like, but also what it will feel like.
https://www.archdaily.com/802035/4-tips-to-get-started-with-virtual-reality-in-architectureKim A. O'Connell
Good architects have always designed with tactile sensations in mind, from the rich wood grain on a bannister, to the thick, shaggy carpet at a daycare center. It’s an effective way to engage all the senses, connecting the eye, hand, and mind in ways that create richer environments.
But one architecture professor at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor is working on a tactile architecture-for-autism environment that does much more than offer visitors a pleasing and diverse haptic experience: It’s a form of therapy for kids like 7-year-old daughter Ara, who has autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
A 10-year project in the making, the gargantuan cultural beacon is made of biomorphically curved concrete walls that wind together like a knot of arteries, creating an otherworldly experience for arts patrons. It’s every bit the landmark project you’d expect from 2013’s Pritzker Prize Laureate, but its rapidly approaching completion triggered a vital question: Where to go from here?
Evaluating the user performance of a particular building design is obviously a good way for clients and architects to gauge whether their design was successful—or could have been better.
There’s even an entire academic discipline called post-occupancy evaluation (POE) devoted to this concept, and Arup is tapping into it with a network of 22 industry partners using the Building Use Studies (BUS) methodology. Too few designers tap into POE, but with gamified simulations done before projects are built, that could change.
https://www.archdaily.com/798512/how-new-video-game-inspired-tools-are-redefining-post-occupancy-evaluationAngus W. Stocking, L.S.
If you’re a sole-practitioner architect, you’ve probably already thought long and hard about the pros and cons of working solo, and don’t feel the burning desire to work in a bustling office environment with large-scale projects and constant collaboration. There are plenty of upsides to running your own practice. “I have it pretty good as a sole practitioner,” says Portland, Oregon architect Celeste Lewis. “I love the flexibility it provides with having a child, parents who are ill, and my passion for being involved in the community.”
But along with the benefits come challenges. One of the biggest is proving you’re worth your salt in a competitive marketplace alongside larger, bigger-reputation firms. Here are eight tips to help sole practitioners—who make up nearly 25 percent of AIA-member firms—build credibility.
According to urban sociologist Ray Oldenburg, people need three types of places to live fulfilled, connected lives: Their “first place” (home) for private respite; their “second place” (work) for economic engagement; and their “third place,” a more amorphous arena used for reaffirming social bonds and community identities.
This third place can be a barbershop, neighborhood bar, community center, or even a public square. The desire for these three separate spheres drives how human environments are designed at a bedrock level, but increasing urbanism—as well as geographic and economic mobility—are collapsing these multiple spaces into one. The result is a new hybrid building type: a live-work multiunit dwelling that is home, office, and clubhouse.